"Absolute" Progression Levels?

We’ve seen confusion since launching progression levels about people’s progression levels going down when their FTP goes up.

Threshold 8
FTP goes up 10 watts
Threshold 4

In this hypothetical case, threshold 4 workouts are harder than threshold 8 because of the increase in wattage. But…it’s hard to tell that in current system.

We could show an “absolute” progression level.

Threshold 450
FTP goes up 10 watts
Threshold 465

This has some advantages and disadvantages. We could show both, but then that just adds more complexity too.

Here’s how we could do it:

  • Progression Level charts have a toggle to switch between absolute and relative.
  • Post-ride PLs would show both absolute and relative
  • Strava/IG share would stay on relative PL
  • Workouts would still be sorted on relative PL but we’d show an absolute number next to it.

We’d make up the scale for these PLs. We can also show an absolute PL relative to watt/kg and an absolute Fitness Score that includes absolute PLs + watt/kg. We have that built and it’s supposed to be one number that tells you how fit you are.

Do ya’ll think this would help you?


I have played enough video games that I think I could manage absolute levels pretty well. It would be like RPG progression lol. I’m all for that!


I prefer the simple relative PL’s but I know a lot of folk get confused by relative things so if you can show both there’s no harm IMO :+1:


Keep it simple

I think the absolute threshold would just add a different confusion,

Threshold 450
FTP goes up 10 watts
Threshold 465

People thinking their Threshold is now 465, why am I doing a workout at 455 … thats near sweetspot ? If my FTP is 460, and my Threshold is 465, when I ride at 98 … what is my target ? 460 ? but isn’t that 100 … so it should be 454 ?


I think there is more weight in showing how Productive/Stretch a workout is, so productive 0.1 is slightly above your current progression level, productive -0.1, slighty bellow, stretch 0.1, is a lot more, and then don’t show the progression levels at all, we don’t really need to know them


That’s what I’d like to have! The feeling that you’re training your own RPG character but it’s you!

And then maybe for some people, we could just remove the word “FTP” altogether…because it doesn’t really matter. But that’s a ways off and would require a lot of a/b testing.


Ugh, really good point.


oooo, how about when you get a new FTP we show where your old levels would be on your new chart?

Kinda like “Here is how you progressed with these new levels”.

It’s hard to explain in text but I think we could do it visually.


Two ways of approaching this I see,
One, you can have levels really like a game that keep going up. They only go down after a period of inactivity or illness etc. Just because your FTP goes up and you’re working at a higher level doesn’t mean you have lost some of your ability to sustain power, even if you can’t sustain the higher power. I think that makes sense, right? Like, if my FTP goes from 300 to 320, my ability to work near threshold for 20 minutes has not gone down just because my FTP went up, so my level shouldn’t necessarily go down either. It will just be harder to express that in a new FTP. So like dark souls. For example, you could" build" your stats into a specific rider type build. But I’m just bias :sweat_smile:

Or, you could just have everyone work towards maxing? All we really want to do is to be able to say…


I like this idea. It works nicely with FTP estimation. You go from needing an FTP and a progression level to just needing one number. Then FTP just becomes a mostly arbitrary calculated reference, which is probably what it should be anyway.

Hmm, I don’t think that’s really what I meant, I feel that you are “hung up” on showing the progression levels, where I just want to know where a workout is it relative to my current progression, so If I am at 5.0. and workout is 5.1 … I think 0.1 would be as good a indicator, as 5.1 , and would reduce confusion

As your progression level increased, you wouldn’t see a increase in progression, rather the progression of workouts, would reduce, so they would become more achievable

I think you could still band it so -0.2 - 1 is productive, 1 - 2 is stretch

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Curious how you define ‘harder’ - is it more kJ? Because I can go months without much FTP movement, and then it suddenly becomes obvious my fitness has increased. And I update my FTP, power targets increase, kJs increase, and the workouts feel the same. But I haven’t followed the TR system of progression since 2019, and my FTP doesn’t move much except after an off-season.

Back to your absolute question - relative sliding scales are not intuitive. On the PL launch podcast a year ago you used weight lifting (stacking more plates on the bar). So to continue with that analogy, you gain fitness and take plates off the bar? :partying_face: Kinda hard to wrap your brain around that one.

Relative sliding scales make sense within a 3 or 4 week block, and can be motiving in a non-FTP way, in they show increasing ability to push harder on workouts. But seeing them slide backwards after an FTP increase, especially an increase close to the error margin of a power meter, that just feels wrong.

I can’t help but think that a better (for my brain) would be an “up and to the right” chart with several blocks and the y-axis represents increasing FTP and the x-axis is a block (base block, build block 1, build block 2). And if FTP is increasing, those 3 PL (relative) blocks would graphically go up and to the right.

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More watts over time.

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The watts don’t feel harder, I just get faster and have to eat more!


To clarify my personal thoughts, I see it like this:

  1. You level up your progressions just like stats in a role-playing game.
  2. There is a theoretical max, like in a game, where it might be 99 in a given stat ( this is just an example. Doesn’t have to be 99). A 99 in something basically means you just won the world championships in that specific area.
  3. Some video games. Have you lose experience when you die or fail. Your progression levels go up when you complete workouts, but if you fail or skip a workout they go down. It would not be huge jumps with individual workouts, but it would go up or down over time depending on how successful you are overtime. This could motivate people to eke out a little more on each workout, but also not worry one way or the other for a single workout. It would also not penalize using alternates to pick an easier or more difficult version.

This is a great idea.


Honestly, I think that would introduce unnecessary confusing considerations and break the link with workouts.

For example, I can easily see that Glassy -2, Round Bald -2 and Mount Field are a sensible(ish} progression, and as long as my PL is around that area then it’s a useful and simple thing to do, irrespective of my ftp (as the workouts scale) . If you have absolute progression levels then you need to increase the number of workouts exponentially to allow for the same workout at basically every FTP/PL equivalent. Unless you’re fundamentally replacing FTP as a measure, you’re always going to train for a while an FTP (or some arbitrary level of difficulty), work out your progress then readjust. You’ll never get away from the need to start with (for example) starting at shorter duration SS intervals at a new FTP.

In short, probably more harm than good unless part of a fundamental rethink of the overall training and measuring approach.

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Quick and dirty concept of what I see in my head if someone posted PLs at finish of each training block (where each block you would see increase for each level). Sorry for the quick & dirty, grabbed pic of first workout on Strava that showed an increase. But you should get my mind’s eye concept.


Your question and this whole discussion reminds me of earlier days of the PMC chart (i.e. what’s TSS, ATL, CTL, and TSB?) and when additional new metrics got introduced into the vernacular, such as FRC, TTE, iLevels, etc . . . and that is the need for education [prior to making changes]. I count myself as part of this latter group (i.e. need for education) as it relates to Progression Levels, and as obvious by comments by others there’s lots more of us.

Personally, I think the company/person that you should look to for a quality way of handling education is TP’s Tim Cusik. He takes complex metrics, explains their origin, intention, metric explanation, how to interpret, etc. I vividly recall Coach Chad’s attempt at explaining CTL on a podcast a couple of years ago and I would say that it wasn’t one of his finer moments. These topics are complex and often [always?] need charts and graphs to explain.

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We want to go the way of not having to explain anything and just having it be intuitively understood.

For some people, PLs are understood. But for others, having them go down makes them think they aren’t as hard.

I do like the idea as I said above of showing the progress when your levels go down.